My children are looking forward to the school year starting and loved their teachers last year. I like that the school had a program going during the summer to keep the kids up on their math skills, and I like that this school has a good mix of kids from different socio-economic backgrounds, as the kids get a chance to build an empathetic and understanding community.
My children have gone to Ponderosa Elementary since its opening. They began Ponderosa in kindergarten and are currently in the third grade. We were incredibly lucky to have Teresa Hjeresen as the principal for the first three years of Ponderosa before her retirement spring of 2011. Everything the other parent reviewer said about her I agree with completely. In the fall of 2011 we were equally blessed with the new & current principal, Steve Austin. He has done a wonderful job following in Teresa's footsteps making Ponderosa a warm and inviting place for students, parents and staff. Even teachers from other schools who have worked with him in the past gush about how lucky Ponderosa is to have scored such a wonderful principal. Furthermore, every teacher my children have had at Ponderosa have quickly become favorites to my children & me. They all truly care about each child as important, unique individuals. Even the teachers my children have NOT had in each grade level greet them with smiles, warming comments and love. These teachers take the time to know all the children that pass through their halls, not just the ones they are specifically responsible for each and every day.
We are new to Bend and Ponderosa Elementary. I was a bit worried coming in because this was a new school, and I couldn't find much information about the academics for this school. What luck we ended up here! They have created an amazing community. The principal, Teresa Hjeresen, is incredibly involved, has hired amazing teachers, leads with her positive example, and makes herself available to the students, teachers and parents to help them achieve their goals for their student(s). You will even find her in the lunchroom with the students every day, cleaning up tables and talking to students. We had home-schooled our kids for a year while traveling through South America, and I as worried about my daughter's integration back into public school (both social and academic). She was placed in Mr. Shaffer's class, and welcomed with open arms. He is one of those teachers you hope your child gets at least once in their life! Energetic, caring, funny, interesting, Mr. Shaffer is able to draw the best work out of every child in his class, regardless of their skill/knowledge base, and moves every child forward, every day. My daughter went from hating to write, to writing an entire book of poetry, then writing more poems before school, after dinner, and on weekends! She also learned her multiplication facts within the first 3 months of his class. His class conducts a pond study program, where they take measurements of the water quality of a nearby watershed and identify local animals, teaching the kids scientific principles and showing how science is necessary in everyday life. I also appreciate the close working relationship the three third grade teachers have and their team approach to teaching kids in the subjects where they are broken up into groups by skill level, such as reading (Walk to Read) and math (Commute to Compute). I cannot 'gush' enough about our positive experience here at Ponderosa Elementary.
I have to say that this school has accomplished more for my special needs child than any other school. They have a truly caring and proactive staff! I have to say that I do get some complaints from my child about students 'picking on each other' but the school is very proactive about how the students treat each other.